By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands -- Responding to an open letter issued to the media by former premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Michael Misick stating his willingness to return to the TCI to face questions relating to ongoing criminal investigations, attorney general Huw Shepheard has indicated that legal process in Brazil must be followed.
In what he described as an open letter to Helen Garlick, the head of the special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT) in the TCI, Misick sought to return to the TCI by means of a private plane chartered by his family. Following his arrest in Rio de Janeiro in December last year, Misick has been held in custody by authorities in Brazil pending the outcome of an extradition request by Britain to return him to the TCI.
Shepheard reiterated that Misick is the subject of an extradition request made lawfully and properly, in accordance with the relevant treaty in place between the UK and Brazil, as extended to the Turks and Caicos Islands. As such, he is currently being held in accordance with the terms of this treaty, under a provisional warrant of arrest.
Supporting documentation will be provided by the TCI authorities in January 2013, within the required 60 days from arrest. Then the Brazilian courts and authorities will process the case and make their decision, he explained.
“This legal process in Brazil must now be followed. That Mr Misick is being held in prison until the process is completed is a matter for the Brazilian authorities. Mr Misick will also have the opportunity to influence the time the process takes, by deciding whether to contest the extradition and/or deciding whether to pursue his political asylum appeal, or not,” Shepheard said.
He also pointed out that, previous to his arrest in Brazil, Misick had a over a year long window of opportunity to return to the TCI to face questions about his role in relation to the criminal investigation arising from the Sir Robin Auld Commission of Inquiry 2008-09 Report.
“Unfortunately, despite assurances given on several occasions by Mr Misick’s legal representatives that he would return to TCI, he clearly never arrived. His continued non-appearance and reluctance to come willingly to be questioned in the TCI is why an Interpol Red Notice was finally sought and granted,” Shepheard said.
“To be clear – when Mr Misick visited the TCI, usually by private plane, after his resignation as Premier he was free to do so, and it appears that he stopped coming when he knew that his arrest was actively sought. The fact that the Brazilian authorities have retained Mr Misick in custody reflects the view that Mr Misick is a high flight risk,” he added.
Consular officials at the British Consulate-General in Rio de Janeiro are said to be providing consular assistance to Misick. This has included visits to Misick to check on his welfare. Consular officials have given to Misick a prisoner support pack which provides useful advice to British prisoners in Brazil, for example details of their rights, expectations, where they can turn to for support, and details of local English speaking lawyers.
Consular officers have also explained to close family members how to apply for a prison visit pass from the Brazilian authorities in order to visit Misick.
“Mr Misick’s current situation is clearly complex and there are many decisions yet to be made by him and the Brazilian authorities that will affect how long it takes to conclude. It is in everyone interests that the legal processes are properly followed at all times,” Shepheard concluded.